Schizanthus - Butterfly Flower, Poor-Man's Orchid
DESCRIPTION: These annuals are found wild in Chile. They form neat clumps, 15 to 30 inches tall. Their leaves grow mostly toward the base and are pinnately cut and divided, growing up to 6 inches long. The flowers are shallow cups, up to 2 inches across. They may be white, pink, violet, lilac, or purplish and are often bicolored. They grow better outdoors in cooler weather. Seasons include from late winter to spring in mild climates, late spring to early summer in warm, temperate climates and summer in cool regions. They are also great for cultivating in a greenhouse.
POTTING: These plants should be planted in well-drained, moist soil. They like sun half the day or more when the weather is cooler; give them more shade in warmer weather. When they are grown in a greenhouse, their final pots should be 6 or 7 inches and filled with two parts loam (pieces of old turf that is coarse and fertile) and one part leaf mold and decayed manure, with a bit of sand. Take care when giving your plants water; wait until the soil is fairly dry before watering. The most important tips to growing strong, healthy plants is to keep them cool, pinch the shoots occasionally when they are young to encourage bushiness and water carefully.
PROPAGATION: Start seeds indoors at a 70- to 75-degree temperature, 12 to 16 weeks before it's safe to plant them outside. Sprinkle them thinly in pots or flats of finely sifted compost consisting of loam, leaf mold and sand and cover them very lightly with the same soil mixture. Moisten the soil with a very fine spray. Place them in a greenhouse or cold frame and cover with a pane of glass. The frame must be kept closed and shaded; they must remain in continual darkness until they sprout.
VARIETIES: S. Grahamii; S. retusus; S. pinnatus. There are also many varieties of these natural kinds.
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